As the need to turn up the heat becomes greater this winter, Black Hills Energy is offering several payment-assistance options to help customers with their energy bills.
“Our payment assistance programs enable us to tailor support to the circumstances and needs of individual households,” said Ray Vigil, customer service representative from Black Hills Energy. “We encourage those finding it difficult to pay their bill to let us know as soon as possible in order to set up a plan that works best for them.”
Residents who qualify for low-income Energy Assistance Program services or have a individual tax identification number may qualify for the Black Hills Energy Assistance Program.
With new program guidelines implemented in October and the approval by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to extend the program, customers who previously applied for the program and were denied based on income are encouraged to reapply.
The new qualifications allow for customers to be at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify for assistance. The previous requirement was 125 percent of the poverty level.
Through November, the program had more than 900 participants and the new qualifications have opened the program to many more customers, Vigil said.
“We are actively working with energy-assistance agencies in our service territory to enroll additional customers in
the program,” he said.
Other benefits of the program are that qualifying customers receive a $75 monthly credit on their energy bill with up to $300 in assistance to pay for past-due amounts for a two-year period.
Customers also are enrolled in the budget billing program, which helps to make the amount of the monthly bills equal.
Another program available is the payment rearrangement option, which provides customers assistance in paying past-due bills.
The program has two options — the 10 percent arrangement that allows for customers to pay 10 percent of past due payments and spread the rest of the bill over a six-month period or the “freeform” arrangement that allows customers to spread their pastdue amount over an eight-week period.
Black Hills also offers the Black Hills Cares program which relies on donations to the Energy Outreach Colorado program to help residents pay their utility bills. All contributions to the program are matched by Black Hills.
Black Hills Cares funds are distributed through Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army in Pueblo; Tri-County Family Care in Rocky Ford; and Loaves and Fishes in Canon City.
For more information on the energy assistance programs, contact Black Hills, 105 S. Victoria St., or at 1-888-890-5554.
This article was written by GAYLE PEREZ from The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.